Posted by Deanna Wagner, Language AACtivist
Did you know that all Mexican Americans don’t celebrate 5 de Mayo? Here in Arizona it is popular among Americans and we have many places with parties and celebrations. My neighbors had a party last year because it coincides with the birthdays of two family members, and we had fun sharing tacos and different drinks from Mexican recipes.
Here is a link to a Minspeak Channel video for aguas frescas. Debbie shares ideas for how to access words on an Accent communication device with their Unidad vocabulary (designed for use in both English and Spanish).
Just yesterday I was told by a family I was meeting with that it is more common for Mexicans to celebrate Day of the Children at the beginning of May. Right after our session a link showed up in my email for the celebration at the Phoenix Zoo. What a great chance to celebrate Mexican heritage and talk about the animals at the zoo!
Here is the link: https://youtu.be/XlMj1j4NtxE
This month we can talk about celebrations for mothers and their children! And since May is also Better Speech and Hearing Month, we can interject some discussions about animal communication. Animals have their own way of communicating with each other, but can also learn to communicate with humans when we think of ways to show them how. Just like human children learning AAC, they need meaningful experiences with caring individuals who are guiding them through the learning process. Animals have learned to use tactile symbols, sign language, and even talking switches! I am particularly excited to learn about the core language systems that are being programmed on buttons to give our pets the opportunity to learn single words that they can combine in unique ways to get messages across to humans. I love this! Look for Bunny the Talking Dog on TikTok and YouTube. They even talk about clustering core words according to the Fitzgerald key, like the AAC systems we use! And even though the dogs and cats can’t read the words, putting labels on the buttons helps the communication partners know what buttons are nearby in case they make a mistake and need some help finding a better word to express what they are thinking. I just love this! I am giving you a link for dogs because I am a dog lover, but people are teaching their cats to do this, too!
Do you want to use a device with more than one language? It is easy and doesn’t cost extra to add Spanish to the Proloquo2Go app from AssistiveWare. Just like their peers, people who use AAC can learn more than one language. They can do this in bilingual homes or in classes with their typical peers. Most importantly they need guidance and experiences with knowledgeable communication partners. We can’t expect somebody to learn Dutch in this system, for example, if they don’t have any communication partners who are fluent enough in the language to be good models.
Here is a link to instructions to add other languages to Proloquo2Go. Be sure to scroll down and read some of their other helpful blogs while you are there. https://www.assistiveware.com/support/proloquo2go/bilingual/add-second-language
Now when we think about AAC systems for speaking with multiple communication partners in creative ways, we can also include our pets! Maybe they even have something they can teach us about attributing meaning to communication efforts and building experiences until multi-modal communication becomes more and more natural. Our goal is communication about everything and everyday stuff, not just school or therapy topics.
How will you use multi-modal communication as you celebrate children and mothers this month?